(CNN) — Sarah Sanders, President Donald Trump’s former press secretary, is expected to announce Monday that she is running for governor of Arkansas, a source familiar with the plan told CNN.
Sanders has been seen as a likely candidate ever since she left the White House in the summer of 2019. The daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will likely face a primary challenge — multiple top Republicans in the state have already announced a bid — but she is widely seen as an early favorite for the position.
Asa Hutchinson, the current governor of Arkansas, is term limited.
The governor’s mansion is expected to stay in Republican control. While the state has elected Democrats in recent history — from former governor and President Bill Clinton to former Sen. Mark Pryor more recently — Arkansas has politically veered right over the last decade. The state backed Trump with more than 62% of the vote in November.
Sanders began considering running for governor before she left the White House in 2019. CNN reported at the time that Sanders, in multiple private conversations, had floated the idea and told colleagues and friends that she believes running for office would be a good next move for her.
Sanders’ run and expected primary challenge could represent a good test of Trump’s continued hold on the Republican Party. Not only is Sanders well-liked by the President — unlike many in Trump’s orbit, she left the White House on good terms and in the President’s good graces — but the primary experience she is expected to tout on the campaign trail is her work with Trump.
“She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job,” Trump tweeted when Sanders was leaving the White House. “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas—she would be fantastic.”
This story has been updated with additional information.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.